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District attorney talks charges in Helotes hot car infant death

Nico LaHood says he'll make final call on decision

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said Monday that he will personally have the final say on charges in the case of an infant who died in a hot car in a Walmart parking lot in Helotes.

In an interview with KSAT 12 News, LaHood steered clear of talking about specific details in the case of a father who police said left his 6-month old son, Dillon Martinez, in the car Friday for more than eight hours. The high temperature that day was 102 degrees.

LaHood said in cases where a person leaves a child in a car, the charge they might face depends on their intent.

"Was it intentional? Was it reckless or was it negligent? Could be anywhere from negligent homicide to murder, or anywhere in between. It just depends on the evidence," LaHood said.

Helotes police said the father told officers he forgot to drop his son off at day care before arriving for work around 6:15 a.m. at Walmart. When the father returned to his SUV at 3 p.m., he found his child dead, police said.

LaHood said his office will review the case once Helotes police finish the investigation and forward the case.

The district attorney said he will personally have the final call on charges. LaHood said the decision comes to him on most child-death cases.

"We're going to look at this practically," he said. "I'm not here to make an example out of anybody. If it's intentional, maybe. If it's negligent, then we'll go a different route. It depends. But we're going to do what's right, not what's easy."

Contacted by phone Monday afternoon, Helotes Police Capt. Anthony Burgess said it was still an "active open case." Burgess didn't say when the case might be forwarded to the DA's office.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office has not released a cause or manner for the boy's death.


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